Vortex2 tornado study finally gets some twisters to study

By: Dr. Jeff Masters , 1:56 PM GMT on June 08, 2009

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A proven way to reduce the incidence of dangerous weather phenomena is to schedule a multi-million dollar field experiment to study the phenomena. Up until this past weekend, that has certainly been true of this year's $10 million Vortex2 tornado study. The 7-week study (which also runs next year) has deployed an armada of over 100 storm chasing vehicles across the Great Plains this Spring, but has largely been frustrated by an exceptionally quiet tornado season. Tornado activity in May was less than half of what was observed last year in May, thanks to a ridge of high pressure that has dominated the weather. The residents of Tornado Alley ran out of luck over the weekend, though, as a strong low pressure system and associated cold front brought severe weather and multiple tornadoes to the region. Sixteen tornado reports were received by NOAA's Storm Prediction Center yesterday, and three on Friday. The team of University of Michigan students that has been writing our featured Vortex2 blog caught some excellent pictures of tornadoes on both Friday and Sunday. Yesterday was probably the last best chance for the Vortex2 project to document a strong tornado, since the project ends this Saturday and no significant tornado outbreaks appear likely for the remainder of this week.

Aurora, Colorado tornado yesterday
A tornado with a 3/4 mile wide debris cloud swept through Aurora, Colorado yesterday, staying on the ground for 8 - 11 miles and damaging a shopping mall, but causing no deaths or injuries. The tornado passed close to one of the high-resolution Terminal Doppler Weather Radars (TDWRs) that we now feature on our web site (see the radar FAQ for more details on these great new additions to our radar offerings). Posted below are the reflectivity and Doppler velocity images from the tornado, showing the amazing fine-scale details these high-resolution radars offer.



Figure 1. Radar reflectivity (top) and Doppler velocity (bottom) from the Denver, Colorado Terminal Doppler Weather Radar (TDWR), which caught the classic signature of a supercell thunderstorm tornado over Aurora, Colorado. A tornado dropped down from the low-level mesocyclone inside the parent supercell thunderstorm at the time of these images. Yellow colors located right next to greens/blues indicate that winds are moving towards and away from the radar in close proximity, the signature of strong rotation at low levels. Also visible on the plot are the winds spreading out from a downdraft on the rear side of the tornado. Black arrows denote the direction of wind flow. The dryline was bent back into a E-W orientation near Denver, creating an area of moisture convergence, which triggered thunderstorm formation.

Western Caribbean disturbance unlikely to develop this week
As area of disturbed weather over the Western Caribbean has brought rains of 2 - 3 inches over portions of Nicaragua and Honduras over the past few days. Wind shear is a high 20 - 30 knots over the disturbance, and no computer models are indicating that the disturbance will develop this week.

Jeff Masters, with help from wunderground's tornado expert, Dr. Rob Carver

Dying out after an official 24 minutes on the ground
Tornado (Fungus)
Tornado
Twisted (rrose1)
This was taken approximately 30 minutes after a brief tornado passed through South Hutchinson, KS tonight. The building is a bus manufacturing facility.
Twisted

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Quoting Drakoen:


You must have had thundersnow?


Not really we don't get the necessary atmospheric boundaries here, but we have an awesome lake-effect that rivals the Great Lakes. I've gotten 3 feet at my house in 6 hours.
Member Since: November 24, 2005 Posts: 635 Comments: 26684
Quoting futuremet:


Yes, and I will be 18 in August.


I meant Drak, but when in August? 21 on the 18th here.
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Quoting futuremet:


Only in 3 thunderstorms your whole life?


That's incredible, only three... I've been in 3 this week.
Quoting Levi32:


You got it. I love them....never seen a lightning strike either, but I've heard thunder.


You must have had thundersnow?
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Quoting GBguy88:



Why do I seem to remember a post from, I don't know, last year or something saying that you were 17?


Yes, and I will be 18 in August.
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Quoting futuremet:


Only in 3 thunderstorms your whole life?


You got it. I love them....never seen a lightning strike either, but I've heard thunder.
Member Since: November 24, 2005 Posts: 635 Comments: 26684
Invest 91E in the eastern pacific developing a surface circulation under those new thunderstorms. Probably the EPAC's best chance yet for a named storm.

Member Since: November 24, 2005 Posts: 635 Comments: 26684
Quoting presslord:
Drak...since there's such an obsession with your age, let's raise some money from it...

Pat and I could run little betting pool with the proceeds earmarked for Portlight...

;)


LOL! That might not be a bad idea... If I get half the profits haha
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Quoting futuremet:


Because you are WU superstar Drak. The WU paparazzi would like to know everything about you: Age, birthplace, most embarrassing, appearance moment, hobbies, weaknesses, etc.



Why do I seem to remember a post from, I don't know, last year or something saying that you were 17?
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Quoting Levi32:


Well those episodes have got to be in the winter mostly I would imagine, but I don't watch the show. Summer weather is pretty boring....some years we get a decent amount of sun but we rarely get thunderstorms (which I find fun since I've only been in like....3 of them in my life).


WOW!
We've had 3 in the past 3 days.
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Quoting Levi32:


Well those episodes have got to be in the winter mostly I would imagine, but I don't watch the show. Summer weather is pretty boring....some years we get a decent amount of sun but we rarely get thunderstorms (which I find fun since I've only been in like....3 of them in my life).


Only in 3 thunderstorms your whole life?
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Quoting futuremet:


Because you are WU superstar Drak. The WU paparazzi would like to know everything about you.


What is wrong with this picture?

Please stop or we will have to butter his sideburns to get him through the door. JK

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drak is all right its the groupies that cause the problems
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Quoting futuremet:


Because you are WU superstar Drak. The WU paparazzi would like to know everything about you.


LOL! Let's get real here...
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There are some very smart bloggers on here who know their stuff. I am not one of those! I appreciate it when they put their analysis’ in layman’s terms for those of us who may be affected by storms.
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Now ya talking Press..


And if going to Voluisa County,Fla. for the Cleanup..wear appropriate Clothing and shoes and have a current Tetanus Booster as well.
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Drak...since there's such an obsession with your age, let's raise some money from it...

Pat and I could run little betting pool with the proceeds earmarked for Portlight...

;)
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Quoting futuremet:


I watch the show Deadliest Catch, and there seem to be some wicked storms in Alaska. It shouldn't be that boring weather wise.


Well those episodes have got to be in the winter mostly I would imagine, but I don't watch the show. Summer weather is pretty boring....some years we get a decent amount of sun but we rarely get thunderstorms (which I find fun since I've only been in like....3 of them in my life).
Member Since: November 24, 2005 Posts: 635 Comments: 26684
Quoting Drakoen:
Don't know why you all want to know how old I am so bad...

There's only one person in all of wunderground that knows that. That's all I need.


Because you are WU superstar Drak. The WU paparazzi would like to know everything about you: Age, birthplace, most embarrassing, appearance moment, hobbies, weaknesses, etc.
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Alaska...your dedication to this blog is admirable! Helping us with analysis in the hurricane prone areas is greatly appreciated.
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610. IKE
Quoting Levi32:


I'm telling ya living in Alaska is boring lol. I don't have as much to do right now but I'll probably end up eating those words later this summer. For now though I have more time on my hands.


My dad was stationed there in the AF when I was a 4/5 year-old.

I'll take the panhandle of Florida....
Member Since: June 9, 2005 Posts: 23 Comments: 37860
Quoting KEEPEROFTHEGATE:
good evening


hi gatekeeper
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Quoting Levi32:


I'm telling ya living in Alaska is boring lol. I don't have as much to do right now but I'll probably end up eating those words later this summer. For now though I have more time on my hands.


I watch the show Deadliest Catch, and there seem to be some wicked storms in Alaska. It shouldn't be that boring weather wise.
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The Portlight Volusia County, FL, cleanup project will be streamed live this weekend @ www.portlight.org...as well as the benefit performance of Pirates of Penzance at the Dionysis Theater in Houston the following weekend...

www.portlight.org
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Quoting Drakoen:
Levi is posting a lot more in here than usual.


I will be posting a LOT more after Wednesday, since school will finally close. I will also have the chance on making more video tutorials.
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Just in general...I like the bloggers who post images, and then explain what they are showing. Levi does that.
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good evening
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Quoting Drakoen:
Levi is posting a lot more in here than usual.
Quoting StSimonsIslandGAGuy:
Levi has increased his posting a lot


I'm telling ya living in Alaska is boring lol. I don't have as much to do right now but I'll probably end up eating those words later this summer. For now though I have more time on my hands.
Member Since: November 24, 2005 Posts: 635 Comments: 26684
I've kept you in suspense for 3 years. We can go another 10 years if ya like.
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It was originally The Fujita-Pearson Scale..a relative of mine.

The Fujita-Pearson Scale or The Fujita Scale?
The scale was original created in 1971 by Dr. Fujita as a way of determining the strength of tornadoes from the damage that they caused. Like many of the contributions of Dr. Fujita, it was not widely accepted when first published.

Dr. Fujita and Dr. Pearson two years later published a paper that added in factors related to the width and length of the tornado path, and called the scale the Fujita-Pearson Scale. It was this work that caused the scale to gain acceptance.

The Storm Prediction Center now uses the greatly improved Fujita Scale to determine tornado strength from the damage that the tornado causes after the tornado.

Yet when a spotter or anyone else from the field makes a judgment about the size of a tornado without damage data, but on the width and length of the tornado path, they are making that judgment based on the size of the tornado on the ground, which is the Pearson method.
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Quoting GeoffreyWPB:
Were you on last season Levi? I find your posts very informative.


Yeah I think I disappeared after Ike in September because things got too busy, but I was here until then.
Member Since: November 24, 2005 Posts: 635 Comments: 26684
Levi is posting a lot more in here than usual.
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I used the Japanese Mind meld when you were on During Gustav..

Itsa Old Okinawan Religion.

LOL
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Quoting Levi32:


What exactly do you mean by negative phase? That seems contradictory.


Ok nevermind, my bad, negative phase is the positive upward motion, therefore you are correct.
Member Since: November 24, 2005 Posts: 635 Comments: 26684
Were you on last season Levi? I find your posts very informative.
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Hey guys, I have a question for anyone that has an opinion on the matter. Does anyone else not care for the 'Enhanced' F-scale rating system? It seems to me that very large and dangerous tornadoes are being given lower ratings, due to the potential for damage to be caused at "lower wind speeds." It seems like what used to be grounds for a strong F-3 rating now only yields high end F-1 or low F-2 ratings. It just seems odd that wind speeds in tornadoes have been measured much higher than what the new scale actually reflects (Example, the OKC tornado with the recorded 300+mph wind speed), and yet the rating is based on something as subjective as the damage caused. I don't believe for a red second that a tornado with 120mph or so winds can destroy a decently built structure in seconds, when a hurricane with comparative winds for an extended period of time (potentially hours, as some of us know from the larger hurricanes) won't completely destroy most houses situated on or near the coast. Tornadoes and hurricanes are two different entities, yes, but it seems clumsy to ignore the fact that far more violent winds have been measured in tornadoes than reflected on the EF-scale. It just seems like there isn't very much science involved in the rating system, whereas the old scale was somewhat based on mathematical equations done by Fujita. Did any of that make any sense at all? Just curious what you all might think.
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The MJO forecast graphics actually say that we are currently in a conducive phase for cyclone development, in July however we will enter a less conducive phase.
Just for making it clear because it can confuse people: although the green colours are associated with negative numbers, the are conducive for tropical development (if it were not for the shear we might get something out of it) whereas the brown ones indicate suppressed potential.

It took me some time to figure that out as well ;-)
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Hello,for me it is negative and has been since '05.Does anybody what happened to Rapiddeepening or something like that.I think he was a kid also but knew what he was talking about.
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Quoting Patrap:
I wont tell Drak,,I promise dude.


LOL! I don't remember ever telling you.
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Jeff co-founded the Weather Underground in 1995 while working on his Ph.D. He flew with the NOAA Hurricane Hunters from 1986-1990.

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